The phrase “road trip” conjures an image of buddies seeking adventure, or a chance for self-exploration: Think Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity in On the Road, or Thelma and Louise. In his new book, Wild & Precious, photographer Jesse Burke documents a series of road trips he made with his young daughter, Clover, exploring forests, fields and the shoreline. In his previous book, Intertidal, and in his commercial assignments, he often portrays people experiencing the great outdoors. He wanted his adventures with Clover to be educational. “I want my children to genuinely understand how magical the world we inhabit is and how we, as humans, are an integral part of the system,” Burke writes. “I want them to feel a deep connection to every aspect of their surroundings.” Many of the photos in Wild & Precious show the forests and rocky coastline they explored, but much of the series conveys his awe and delight in his daughter’s adventurous spirit. He shows Clover staring out to sea from atop a rock on the shore, nestled in the tall grass of a field, holding a butterfly, and also tucked into a bed in a roadside motel.
The series is on view at Clampart Gallery in New York City until November 14, in an exhibition timed to coincide with the book’s publication by Daylight Books. The book includes letters that father and daughter wrote about their travels and the sights they saw. Wild & Precious presents a portrait of their relationship to each other, as well as their relationships to nature.
—Holly Stuart Hughes